Fr. Joseph Illo’s homily given on January 25, 2015 during the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at Star of the Sea Church, San Francisco:
Domine non sum dingus
Today Holy Mother Church gives us the Gospel passage that we repeat three times at every Mass: “Domine, non sum dingus, sed tantum dic verbo….” Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word…” The pagan centurion believes that Christ can heal his son, and Jesus declares that nowhere in Israel, even among his own chosen people, has he found such faith. Let us pray that prayer, just before receiving Him in Holy Communion, with at least as much faith as the “pagans.”
If possible, live at peace with all men
Speaking of which, some of you may have seen our sleepy parish in the evening news on Friday. The breaking news story is that Star of the Sea is returning to the Catholic practice of only boys serving at the altar. As one parishioner observed, “girl altar boys never made much sense to me.” I was leaving Mass on Friday afternoon when a reporter from KPIX ran up with his cameraman. He had heard that our parish was no longer training “altar girls” and rushed right over to make an issue of it. He was very nice during the interview, but the news story that night was just a little short of vicious. CBS mostly showed angry parishioners, and both anchor woman and reporter bore grim expressions condemning the Catholic Church for being so hateful to women. I tried to explain that service at the altar is intrinsically tied to the priesthood, which is a male vocation, but CBS didn’t air most of what I said.
St. Paul urges us in the epistle: “do not repay anyone evil for evil…if possible, live at peace with all men.” It is not always possible to live at peace with all, not even with our own spouses and family members, and certainly not with non-believers such as CBS. But we must believe in God’s grace and try our best. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him.” Those of us who hold fast to a more traditional way of life, who adhere to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church, are sorely tempted to repay the evil this evil generation dishes out to us with evil thoughts, complaints, and even bitterness. We must not give in to that temptation. I think of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who suffered unimaginable torments from “the pagans,” and yet who said to his fellow inmates at Auschwitz: “do no hate the guards…. Do not hate the guards.” St. Paul commands us: “do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil by good.”
The Real Story
CBS invented and aired a story on how the Church hates women the night before the massive Walk for Life yesterday. Satan is behind all this, for he wants to destroy human life, and destroy it in its most precious sanctuary, the wombs of our mothers. Consider the real news story: 42 years ago our country legalized the killing of an entire class of her own citizens. In 1968 Martin Luther King had been assassinated, which led America to guarantee civil rights for all Americans. Just five years later, though, America’s Supreme Court reversed itself to deny civil rights to another class of people. This new discrimination was not based on race but on age. As of January 22, 1973 in the United States, if you were under a certain age you had no right even to live.
January 22, 1973 was the end of the rule of law in this country, even though its consequences have only gradually become apparent. As we began to accept abortion in the late 1960s, family life began to disintegrate, the use of drugs escalated, violence came to our schools, on our streets became unsafe. The civil rights issues we thought had been resolved in the 1960s have erupted again this year in Ferguson, New York, and everywhere, because a nation that sanctions abortion will never be a nation that respects all its citizens. Yesterday, 60,000 walked down Market Street in an effort to overcome evil with good. We are tempted, certainly, to give up on America when the media, the government, and the education system are all under the sway of the evil one. But we cannot give up, and we cannot stay home. We need to pray, we need to speak, we need to walk. God bless all of you who do so. Let us continue to pray, especially through the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother. This nation is consecrated to the Immaculate Conception, and in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph.